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Celebration of World Orthoptics Day – Faculty of Health

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Celebration of World Orthoptics Day

posted by Dawn Morrison, with files from the Canadian Orthoptic Society and the International Orthoptic Association on June 24, 2021 in News

Dr Darren Oystreck is the Chair of the Clinical Vision Science program

Dr Darren Oystreck is the Chair of the Clinical Vision Science program

Many who have had to seek treatment for themselves or a loved one for certain eye conditions know firsthand the value of orthoptists. Orthoptists are allied health professionals specializing in the study of ocular motility and visual development. Their primary role is to study and diagnose visual system dysfunctions involving vision, eye movements, eye alignment, and binocularity in children and adults. Orthoptics focuses on the non-surgical treatment of amblyopia and strabismus, but the expertise and reach goes far beyond and includes research and teaching.

The International Orthoptic Association (IOA) is the global voice of the orthoptic profession and is made up of 15 member national professional organizations, including the Canadian Orthoptic Society. The annual IOA World Orthoptic Day, being the first Monday in June, is an opportunity to raise the profile of the orthoptic profession and promote the activities of orthoptists locally, nationally and internationally. It is also an opportunity to show the important role the profession plays in eye health and to recognize the work that orthoptists do for their patients and the ophthalmic community.

Dawn Pickering is the Coordinator of the Clinical Vision Science program and herself an orthoptist and ophthalmic medical technologist.

“We are a small profession, but an essential part of the healthcare system,” she says. “One of the most important things we do is discover and treat vision disorders in infants and children, focusing on early diagnosis to support normal development of the visual system.” she says.

The Faculty of Health’s Clinical Vision Sciences (CVS) program was established in 2003 (although the program was part of Dal in 2003, it has been at IWK since 1984). It is located in the IWK Health Center and is the largest orthoptic training program in North America – 75 percent of employed orthoptists in Atlantic Canada have graduated from the program. Currently, around 56 orthoptic programs around the world offer postgraduate programs, professional doctorates and / or doctorates.

The Master of Science in Clinical Vision program is offered through a unique partnership between IWK Health and Dalhousie University. CVS is the only Canadian orthoptics program offering master’s level training and the only dual program offering eligibility for certification as an orthoptist and as an ophthalmic technologist.

There is currently a global shortage of orthoptists. Graduates of the program have excellent employment prospects, as the profession has a 100 percent employment rate.

“We’re here to support eye health and more. Said Dawn.

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